No trip to San Francisco is complete without seeing firsthand San Francisco’s amazing engineering feat, the Golden Gate Bridge. From the bridge vantage point, you can see Alcatraz Island, home of abandoned Alcatraz Prison. You can cruise to the island via ferry where the National Parks Service offers walking audio tours and GPS tours of the facilities.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area offers hiking and exploration opportunities at over 35 different dedicated open spaces and historical points of interest. Fort Baker, Fort Cronkhite and Fort Barry offer a look into San Francisco’s military history and include picnic and hiking areas as well.
If you’re traveling with your pets, Rodeo Beach at the Marin Headlands is one of the only public dog-friendly beaches in California. The beach is popular with local surfers and beachcombers. From here, you can hike a number of trails, reaching amazing viewpoints of the Pacific Coast and the Bay Area.
The centuries-old streetcar system is a fun way to tour San Francisco. You can catch a ride on a cable car or streetcar from anywhere along the miles of routes to reach many popular tourist destinations. Chinatown in San Francisco is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia and provides unique shopping and dining opportunities.
For a one-of-a-kind museum trip, the Exploratorium offers a hands-on interactive educational experience. Here, kids of all ages have fun exploring in a museum filled with experimental exhibits. A popular exhibit is the tactile dome where visitors explore in complete darkness with only their senses to guide them.
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For more science-minded activities, visit the California Academy of Sciences. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 AM to 5 PM and is publicized as being the only place on the planet with an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum and a 4-story rainforest all under one roof. With hundreds of exhibits and nearly 40,000 live animals, it’s well worth the visit. Every third Wednesday of the month is free day, and all visitors are admitted free of charge.
The Bay Area is also home to some of the West Coast’s best wine country. You can take bus tours through the rolling slopes of the Bay Area’s wine country to visit the many diverse vineyards. The most commonly visited wineries include the Cline, Homewood, Domaine Chandon and Mumms wineries. The area’s average mild 65-degree weather makes a trip to wine country a pleasant and relaxing experience any time of the year.
Nearby Oakland is home to the Oakland Museum, which brings together collections of art, history and natural science under one roof. It seeks to explore the connections between California’s environment, cultural history and human’s creative expression. The inspirational African American Museum and Library is also a must-see, as it houses a unique collection of important exhibits on the history of African Americans in the U.S.
No matter where you decide to visit in the Bay Area, you’ll be sure to bring home tons of photos and memories from the variety of activities available.